• More than 100,000 children may be affected
• We’ll accommodate them, says official
CITING the need to ensure adherence to good quality and high standards, the Education Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration has concluded arrangements to shut down 556 private schools it says are not up to standard and illegally operating in the capital city.
The Director, Department of Quality Assurance of the Education Secretariat of FCT Administration, Mr. Ayuba Didam who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, said the proliferation of illegal schools in the FCT had reached an alarming proportion.
According to him, such schools marked for closure lack infrastructure and academic standards, adding that the FCT Administration (FCTA) had given approval to the department to shut them down as soon logistics were provided.
The Guardian learnt that with an average of about 200 pupils in each of the schools, no fewer than 110 , 000 children would be sent away from their schools.
According to Didam: “Because these illegal schools are about 556, it will require like three pages of newspapers in three national dailies to publish them. Then we have to mobilize people to serve notice to all the schools and since there is also a committee involved , it means we will require vehicles to go round.
“The massive closedown of such schools is being delayed because it requires huge logistics.
We will write again and seek funds. When we sought the approval, we requested for funding, but there was no funding. The budgetary provision for 2015 was very poor, probably the money wasn’t there bearing in mind that the revenue base of the Federal Government has been on a slide recently.
Also because of the Treasury Single Account(TSA) operation, all the funds that would have been left for us were swept into one single account with nothing left for us to operate with.
“Since September till now, 70 percent of our operations have been funded from our own pockets and I thank God for the crop of people that we have in the Department of Quality Assurance who by upbringing and training as teachers, have a high sense of motivation, high sense of duty.
People use their cars and their money to buy fuel, whereas there is an official vehicle. As I speak to you today, there are supervisors in the Municipal Area Council and in Karshi, Bwari and Abaji Area Councils where our men are evaluating what is happening in the schools.”
Didam urged parents in the FCT to always verify the status of private schools before sending their children and wards there, stressing that the names of such approved schools were available on the web page of the secretariat.
He further said that there were about 2000 approved public and private schools all over the FCT that could meet the educational needs of the residents .
“It is better for the system to be regulated than for it to be left unregulated.
After publishing the names of the schools that would be closed down, we provide alternatives.Government has provided enough schools for everybody.
In the early nineties, late eighties or somewhere before then, I would have agreed that that there weren’t enough schools.
But now with both government and private sector contribution, we have achieved a very good, if not 100 percent access to basic education.
In fact, the beauty of the system is that there is choice; there are different categories of schools.
“Like I said earlier, it is better for us to control and regulate than to just throw the matter open for all manner of players. I have been to a couple of schools this year, and I must confess that I had to shut them down without any authorization, because it was a very clear violation of policy and guidelines and all that is good. How can you gather children of ages two to six in a small room with all of them sitting on the floor, with one man instructing.
There is no curriculum, no ventilation, no lighting and nothing for safety. If peradventure something happens in that little room you call school, what will you do, how would you explain to the parents of these children?”
He expressed displeasure with instances where parents would prefer to take their children to clearly dilapidated and unapproved schools simply because they are tagged as “private” rather than enroll them at public schools within walking distance of their homes.
Didam also said that the supervision, monitoring and evaluation of schools was a routine process to ensure that minimum standards were met in both public and private schools in terms of physical planning and infrastructure, staffing and curricular and extra-curricular activities.